The Gambling Help Online peer support community are challenging each other to get more healthy sunlight this September.
Many of us live our lives bathed in artificial light. We spend all day under glaring neon lights at work and then go home and stare into the light of the television or our smartphone. Some people who want to make a change to their gambling habits may already have noticed that the limited daylight in gaming venues or the blue light of their smartphones have a damaging effect on their mental health. Modern lifestyles mean that we often get almost no natural light in the day and a lot of unnatural light at night — and that might be really bad for us.
New Scientist recently reported (subscriber-only article) that scientists are increasingly linking our dysfunctional exposure to light with the disruption of the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies, interrupting biological processes like sleep, digestion and mood regulation. The theory is that the internal timing mechanisms in our brains are regulated by light, so inappropriate light exposure interferes with our body’s ability to understand when it should be triggering sleep or wakefulness. Similarly, light-responsive cells also connect to the part of our brain that regulates mood and learning. Even if it’s cold, bright, sunny days are associated with higher levels of serotonin, a chemical that is associated with feelings of satisfaction and calmness.
Our cardiovascular health, bone density and immune system may also be compromised by Vitamin D deficiency, which is unexpectedly common in Australia, where 30% of us experience a deficiency despite our abundant sunshine. That’s because we spend so much time indoors, and only get enough incidental UV exposure in summer.
Researchers are therefore recommending that we safely increase our exposure to natural light in the daytime to improve the quality of our lives.
As we enter spring, the Gambling Help Online peer support community members are challenging themselves to increase their daily exposure to sunshine. If you’d like to join in, head on over to the forum to find out what your peers are up to!
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Take your morning coffee and toast outside! Every minute counts.
- Put away your phone before bed — you’ll probably drift off earlier and have a better night’s sleep, so you’ll be able to get up earlier and soak up some morning light.
- Get up early and take the dog for a walk before work — there’s a reason being a dog owner is good for your heart! If you don’t have your own dog, head down to the local park and do some dog-spotting.
- If you can, walk or cycle to work, or even just to the nearest train station.
- Remember, the sun can be harsh in Australia even in spring, so before you head out make sure you check out My UV to find out if you need to slip slop slap.
Let us know how you are managing to work more sunshine into your life!